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We gave the three newest top-tier navigators a head-to-head test.


Garmin GPSmap 62st

Garmin GPSmap 62st

The Sell: It's a full-featured workhorse that's as tough as it is easy to use. The Test: With the most intuitive software we've seen and quick downloads of aerial imagery (for a $30-per-year subscription), the 62ST was a breeze to use straight out of the box—and boasts the most smash-resistant waterproof housing of the units we tested. The 2.6-inch screen isn't the largest, but the basic 1:100,000-scale topos of the U.S. are crisp and easy to see on the bright display. The Verdict: Short on bells and whistles (like official USGS maps) but extremely fast, highly accurate, hassle-free, and dependable. 9.2 oz; $550;

Magellan Explorist 710

Magellan Explorist 710

Magellan Explorist 710

The Sell: A GPS lover's GPS. The Test: Geocaching geeks will drool over the techy perks, like the ability to tag voice memos and 3.2-mega­pixel photos with coordinates, the 3-D views of the 1:24,000-scale trail topos, and the highly customizable display. The only downsides: the device takes 30 seconds to boot up—about three times longer than the Garmin—and our fresh batteries died within eight hours. The Verdict: For everything from panning around a map to serious GPS play/work, nothing beats the Explorist's sharp three-inch touch screen. Just pack some extra Energizers. 6.9 oz; $550;

Delorme PN-60W

Delorme's PN-60W and SPOT Satellite Communicator
Delorme's PN-60W and SPOT Satellite Communicator (Photo: Photo by Ryan Heffernan)

The Sell: GPS as sat phone. The Test: It comes with free road and 1:24,000 USGS topo maps and can download aerial images (for $30), but that's just chocolate sauce on the sundae. By far the coolest feature of the PN-60w is that it syncs up with Spot's 3.7-ounce Satellite Communicator (included) to beam 41-character text messages, tweets, Facebook updates, or an emergency S.O.S. from almost anywhere on earth. "Typing" on the small 2.2-inch screen with the rocker switch can be tedious, but every message got through—even from under a thick canopy in the Maine woods. The Verdict: Carrying two devices isn't ideal, and the service ain't cheap, but the GPS bar has officially been raised. 7 oz; $450 plus $200-per-year text-and-tracking subscription;

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Filed To: GPS Devices
Lead Photo: Photo by Ryan Heffernan
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